How Do You Know If You Have a Drinking Problem?

How do you know if you have a drinking problem?

This is an important question for many people in America.

Across the country, no other addictive substance is consumed as often as alcohol.

And in any given year, millions of drinkers experience alcohol use disorder, or AUD.

This disorder includes alcoholism or alcohol addiction.

It also includes non-addicted abuse of alcohol.

Even if you never develop AUD, drinking can expose you to serious harm.

How do you know if you have a problem?

There are many potential signs that alcohol is damaging your life.

Some of these signs are symptoms of AUD.

Others can appear long before you develop AUD symptoms.

Here are six of the most important things to look out for.

Immediate Placement in Alcohol Rehab if You Show Signs You Have a Drinking Problem

Sign #1 – Binge Drinking

Alcohol binges are concentrated episodes of alcohol use. During one of these episodes, it takes no more than two hours to get legally drunk.

For adult males, the typical level of consumption needed during this span of time is at least five drinks. For women, it typically takes at least four drinks.

In the U.S., binging episodes are both frequent and costly. In fact, these episodes are the nation’s most widespread and lethal form of excessive drinking.

If you participate in it, you expose yourself to a host of major problems, including:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Accidental injuries
  • Intentional acts of violence
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Heart disease and several other chronic illnesses

In addition, binge drinking with any regularity increases the odds you will develop AUD.

Learn More About the Signs You Have a Drinking Problem

Sign #2 – Heavy Drinking

Heavy drinking is alcohol consumption that increases your risks for significant harm. The precise definition of this pattern of drinking differs slightly among experts. One common definition comes from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. It states that men drink heavily whenever they consume at least five drinks in one day. It also states that women drink heavily whenever they consume at least three drinks in one day.

The definition from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is tied to binge drinking. It states that you are a heavy drinker if you binge on alcohol at least five days a month. This standard is the same for both men and women.

If you drink heavily, you expose yourself to the same kinds of short-term risks as people who binge drink. You also share the long-term risks for developing alcohol use disorder. In addition, while in alcohol treatment, heavy drinkers are more likely to experience complications when going through withdrawal. Such complications include delirium tremens, also known as the DTs.

What Are The Signs That You Have A Drinking Problem? - Emerald Isle - A young woman is sitting with her addiction counselor to go over the signs you have a drinking problem and whether she needs treatment or not.

Sign #3 -Alcohol Blackouts

Alcohol-related blackouts are another warning sign for drinkers. These blackouts create gaps in your memory for the time in which you were drunk. Most people experience fragmentary blackouts. This means that they can remember bits and pieces of what they did. However, others experience total blackouts that wipe out all of their memories while intoxicated.

Blackouts are most common in people who have a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.16. This is twice the level needed to qualify as legally drunk. However, you may also blackout with less alcohol in your system. This is especially true if you take medications for anxiety or sleep problems. In addition, your risks for blacking out are affected by how fast you get drunk. The quicker alcohol hits your bloodstream, the greater the chances.

Alcohol-related blackouts are highly associated with binge drinking. This means that they tend to come with the same risks as alcohol binges. Blackouts are also associated with something called high-intensity drinking. This dangerous behavior is defined by drinking at least double the amount needed to get drunk in two hours or less.

Find Out More About the Signs You Have a Drinking Problem

Sign #4 – DUI and Other Risky Behaviors

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions. This fact helps explain why some drinkers do dangerous things when they are intoxicated. One classic example is driving under the influence or DUI.

Others include:

  • Operating machinery
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Going for a swim
  • Entering hazardous areas

If you do these kinds of things even once, you may be exposed to severe or catastrophic consequences. If you do them multiple times, you have at least one of the 11 possible symptoms of AUD.

Sign #5 – Not Meeting Your Obligations

Most adults have important obligations to meet in everyday life.

These commitments include such things as:

  • Paying your bills
  • Caring for your dependents
  • Showing up for work
  • Completing your workplace responsibilities
  • Attending school
  • Finishing class assignments and successfully completing tests

If you fail to meet one or more of your obligations, you may want to consider the impact of your drinking. Are your problems related to your alcohol consumption? If so, you have another of the possible AUD symptoms.

Sign #6 – Loss of Control

Loss of control over how much you drink is a major red flag for alcohol use disorder. This may mean drinking more than you intended to at any one time. It may also mean drinking more often than you intended. These problems are an indication of alcohol dependence or alcoholism. This means that your brain and body are addicted to alcohol.


Avoiding Alcohol Use Disorder

If you do not have AUD, you can avoid developing it. A big factor in steering clear of AUD is not drinking alcohol in excessive amounts. That means not participating in binge drinking. It also means not participating in heavy drinking or high-intensity drinking. Not sure if you need to modify your alcohol use? Ask your doctor and discuss your concerns.

What Are The Signs That You Have A Drinking Problem? - Emerald Isle - A group of individuals in residential treatment for alcoholism discuss the signs you have a drinking problem as part of a group therapy session.


Diagnosing and Treating AUD

You must have at least two AUD symptoms to be diagnosed. At the other end of the scale, it is possible to have all 11 symptoms. If you suspect you have this disorder, speak to your primary care doctor. These medical professionals have the skills needed to uncover AUD. They also know how to refer you for help from an addiction specialist.

Even people with severe AUD can recover with effective treatment. Today, that treatment includes approved medication. It also includes behavioral therapy backed by quality research.

If you have mild AUD, defined as two or three symptoms, you may receive treatment in an outpatient program. People with moderate AUD, defined as four or five symptoms, may also benefit from outpatient care. If you have six or more symptoms, you have severe alcohol use disorder. Inpatient treatment is typical in these cases. Enrollment in a mutual self-help group will further support your recovery.

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How Do You Know If You Have a Drinking Problem? – Get More Information

How do you know if you have a drinking problem?

There is no single answer to this question.

However, there are a range of things that may indicate future or current issues with alcohol.

Excessive drinking is one the biggest warning signs for future problems.

It can also be a symptom of an existing case of alcohol use disorder.

There are two main forms of this behavior: binge drinking and heavy drinking.

Binge drinking leaves you drunk in a brief span of time.

Heavy drinking boosts your weekly or monthly alcohol use beyond safe levels.

In addition, there is high-intensity drinking, a practice that leads to extreme, rapid intoxication.

Some excessive drinkers experience alcohol blackouts.

These blackouts can produce partial or full amnesia for the time in which you were intoxicated.

Potential warning signs of problem drinking also include doing risky things while under the influence.

In addition, they include:

  • Not being able to meet your obligations because of your drinking behaviors
  • Losing control over how much alcohol you consume

All three of these issues are symptoms of AUD.

If you have two or more of the 11 AUD symptoms, you qualify for an official diagnosis.

Fortunately, there are effective treatments for the disorder, including medication and behavioral therapy.

You can also further your recovery by joining a mutual self-help group.

For more information on how to know if you have an alcohol problem, contact the specialists at Emerald Isle today.

Our deep expertise in AUD-related care allows us to treat any form of the disorder.

In all cases, we feature evidence-based medications and therapy.

In addition, we feature customized recovery plans suited to your specific needs.